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Monday, 10 December 2018

Moscow’s influence in the Middle East is increasing as Washington’s is waning

Moscow’s influence in the Middle East is increasing as Washington’s is waning, Liz Sly writes for the Washington Post. Over the past several months, several Arab leaders — including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi — have chosen to visit Moscow more frequently than or instead of Washington. “Under the personal direction of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, Russia is stepping into the vacuum left by the disengagement of the Obama administration and the unpredictability of the Trump one to challenge the United States’ dominant role in the region.”

Part of the appeal is Moscow’s policy of non-interference: Putin is “making inroads with U.S. partners Saudi Arabia, Egypt and even Jordan, based on those countries’ perception that Putin’s authoritarian regime can act decisively in support of its friends while avoiding American-style meddling in their domestic politics,” says Bloomberg’s Hal Brands. The latest example? Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman looking very chummy at the G20 Summit, which served as a reminder to the US that Riyadh has other options for powerful allies if Washington proves to be a thorn in its side over issues like the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

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